Over the past 20 or so years that I’ve been travelling, I have overheard conversations between fellow travellers discussing an entire nation of people, those being Americans. This most recently enforced by an overheard conversation whilst in America.
“Only 5% of Americans have a passport” has been tossed around carelessly without a likely reason as to why this may be the case.
“Americans rarely travel outside of their own country” is another gem which people aren’t super keen to investigate. So what could possibly be the reason for this?
Why travel to America?
Well, for a start America is 3,717,792 square miles in size which means its 2.5 times the size of the European Union. It’s made up of 50 States which all claim to, and typically do have their own identity, landscape and breed of people. I mean, you compare Alaska to Hawaii, or Mississippi in the deep south to Washington State in the Northwest and you’ll see they are all very unique. I don’t mean just a little different, they have a completely opposing landscapes, temperatures, music, cuisine and history. Mississippi has an infamous slaving past whereas Alaska shares tales of early settlers setting up homesteads, and to this day native American languages are still spoken. Now think of all the states in between and that goes a long way towards explaining why Americans are in no hurry to leave the USA.
If I was American I can appreciate why I would want to see some of my own country before I visit the rest of the world, a mistake I made with my own place of origin, New Zealand.
Just for the record I have been travelling a long time and met many Americans throughout my journeys outside of the USA. I have also met many other nationalities and wouldn’t have the audacity to describe any one as ‘more stupid’ or ‘more loud’ than others.
Many people I know are happy with a ‘stay-cation’ and more comfortable with a familiar language, reliable food and just prefer being able to drink the tap water without fear of becoming sick. Plus, it is nice to live and travel in a country which is so fiercely patriotic; something i’m always proud of Kiwi’s (those from New Zealand) demonstrate so strongly.
I once heard a traveller complaining that Americans were to blame for coming to a country and paying the asking price without bartering, therefore driving up the prices for other travellers. Firstly this doesn’t support the “Americans never travel rule” and for the record, when there is mass tourism to the point where it can be relied on as a steady income, that is one of the primary reasons for soaring prices in tourist destinations. I mean is this really something we can pin on Americas? I think not.
Another reason as to why US citizens may not travel internationally as often, is the typical holiday annual entitlement for an American is two weeks, yes thats right, 14 days. This improves through long term employment but seriously, 14 days is not a big chunk of time to plan for holidays.
If I only had two weeks holiday would I want to board a plane, deal with jet lag, travel around, fly back and deal with jet lag again before going back to work? Well, yes, I probably would but I can also understand why many wouldn’t.
Would I want to quit my job to travel and lose all the benefits I had built up? Again, this probably wouldn’t phase me but I can see why it would be an issue for people, especially if had, or was to start a family.
I have travelled to the states many times and I’ve had some amazing and vastly contrasting experiences. My first trip explored the red rock deserts and cascading canyons of Americas southwest, followed by the lush Adirondack mountains of eastern New York State. I’ve rafted the full length of the Grand Canyons Colorado River for 8 days with no phone service or human contact outside our group, and hiked across glaciers in Alaska’s Wrangell-St Elias National Park. I’ve walked the national park trails of the Northwest and most recently spent a wintery week in Yellowstone searching for wolves. All extremely different environments, temperatures, views and well, just unique experiences.
So why do only 5% of Americans own a passport? Probably because their country is so varied, huge and accommodating that why would they need to leave? They have opted to explore their own backyard before seeing the rest of the world which I think is admirable
Why do Americans not see the rest of the world (this is factually wrong but anyway, moving along)? Well, because their back garden is really bloody beautiful.
Don’t simply take my word for it. If you’ve never thought of booking a trip to America outside of the major gateway long weekend, I urge you to just do it and see what makes the United States such a world class destination for travel.
Be sure to read this helpful info on applying for your ESTA first.
Happy travelling folks!